Friday, March 23, 2007

Downing 'lamps' Lampard

I saw this in the Gazette but it is quite uncanny

Did you see this man on Monday evening?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

My old bangers #2

Continuing the abysmal history in the automotive market, my first real car purchase was another disaster. After receiving a loan from the bank to purchase a car in the £1000- region I set of in search of my own first set of wheels. Rather than study the <£1000- market I decided instead to take the first car I looked at as I was so eager to own a vehicle of my own. In Stockton there was a 'Swiss Toni' character lying in wait for me. I should have smelled a rat when he explained why he wasn't using his own house to sell the car. He didn't have enough car space so his cousin had gladly let him use her empty drive.

"Trust me I'm from Stockton!"

I drove off in my shiny Blue Rover 216 and £750 lighter. Swiss Toni says 'Cars are like women'. If so this car was going to turn out to be the bitch from hell.

On my first long distance trip to Hemel Hempstead the Rover 216 decided to breakdown in a one-lane part of the M1 during roadworks. After 10 minutes of hell and abuse it decided to start again. On Radio 1 I heard that there were 10 mile tailbacks due to a car breaking down. I stopped at the first service station and signed up with the RAC immediately. Not a unwise choice as approaching Stokesley on the A19 it broke down again so after a 2 hour wait I was towed home with a knackered alternator.

A few weeks later I was towed from the A66 near Stockton with a failed clutch. Shortly after the brakes started scraping and had to have all pads and disks replaced.

After 6 months it was up for its MOT. The car failed on about 15 points. One of the main ones being that the frame of the car under the windscreen was so rotten that the windscreen was about to fall out. I was quoted around £1000- to get the car driveable so I decided to put it in the paper for 'spares or repair' for £300-.

Surprisingly enough a young lad from Premier Road in Ormesby came and paid £300-for it. I asked my Mother who was there when he came round to be honest about the car. But he insisted he was going to love fixing it and as he was training to be a mechanic it would be good practise.

So all in all not a good buy, but the worst part of owning this car was not the hassle, the unpredictability, the costs, the disappointments or the tears its was this.............

Hyacinth and Richard Bucket minding the pedestrians.

Strangely enough I don't think I ever realised at the time that I was driving the same car as Richard Bucket . I can honestly say I never felt at all happy to be driving the Rover 216, but whenever I see an episode of 'Keeping up appearances' the bitter memories of my first 'real' car become a little more bitter.

Bought: 1993
Price: £750-
Mileage: 110,000
Costs: £1000+
Sold: £300
Max Speed: 100mph
Mileage obatined: 5,000
Overall rating: 0/10

next episode: Another Stockton based 2nd hand car salesman (now a lawyer) sells me a car that lasts.

Monday, March 12, 2007


With all the art dealers in town I thought I might try and palm off a painting as an original. I have tried doing a Mondriaan before without much success but this time I was assisted by a great tip from none other than Boro lass Kirsten O'Brien on the SMART programme.

Black, Yellow, Red and Blue on canvas 15"X12" £59,999-

Molly Ringwald's character (Andie) in "Pretty in Pink" prominently
displays three Mondrian paintings in her room.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Biz Jets

Maastricht-Aachen Airport

From my office window I can see the planes taking off from the local Maastricht-Aachen Airport. Usually during a day there is about 7 - 10 departures from the airport. 3 or 4 passenger flights and the rest cargo flights.

The last couple of days there has been a constant stream all day long of small 'biz jets' streaming up on the departure route. The reason being is that today the TEFAF exhibition opens at the MECC (Maastricht Exhibition and Conference Centre). TEFAF ia apparently the world's largest art and antiques fair. The exhibitors are art dealers. And most of them travel in private jets. One arrived today in a converted Boeing 727.

Do ya want ya windows washing sir?

There is usually a local newspaper article during the exhibition to stagger us paupers at the value of all the artwork held inside the expo. They never mention though that there is probably 5 times the value sitting on the airports aprons at the same time.

If you would like to visit the exhibition the entrance fee is only 55-Euros and 20-Euros for a catalogue. An attempt to keep the riff-raff out

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My old bangers #1

The simca was the start of a love affair for rubbish cars

When Clarckson always grills his guests about what cars they have owned it always makes me think. Have I ever had a car I really wanted. Likely answer is no. Due to financial circumstances mostly I have taken what was affordable and acceptable later to realise I had made a bad choice.
My first car was actually given to me by my Mother as I almost destroyed it and she had had enough of it. It lasted about a week or two after in a desperate attempt to improve the brakes I made it undriveable by bleeding all the brake fluid from the system.

I came home from college to find Mum had forked out £50 for some gypos to take the beast away.

The Simca 1000; It was very difficult to find a realistic picture of the Simca. As it was quite a succesful rally car. And most pictures on the 'net' are recreating that success. In truth the road model was a death trap. I remember my first time in it I reached 60mph and the car started speed wobbling all over the road.

Bought: 1985
Price: £500
Mileage: 15,000
Costs: very low
Sold: -£50
Max Speed: 60mph - didn't dare try faster
Mileage obatined: 20,000
Overall rating: 6/10

Luxurious interior of the Simca 1000

Comments: An excellent value car with low mileage and comedy factor of the gold paint job and bouncy seats. This iconic car delivered as a true 'fanny magnet'.

Some Simca facts:

Simca was purchased by Daimler Chrysler

Simcas were the most popular cars in France in the post-war years

The Spanish parody group Los Inhumanos released a popular party song titled Qué difícil es hacer el amor en un Simca 1000 ("How difficult it is to make love in a Simca 1000").

Air raid warning

Every first Monday of the month at 12pm we have a lovely sounding emergency warning siren go off to practice evacuation to the air riad shelters here in Maastricht. It is a spooky sounding siren which freaked out the cat this morning as he couldn't decide what was his priority. To bother a pair of mating frogs or take shelter and duck inside. Fortunately it was a practise run as usual so he only suffered from small paranoia from licking the afore-mentioned frogs.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Moon Shadow

Moon masquarades as Mars

If you are bored tomorrow night (Saturday 03rd March), then take a look at the Full moon which should be high in the sky tomorrow evening.

At around 21:30hrs GMT an eclipse of the moon will begin with 'total eclipse' occurring around 22:40 pm. The moon should normally appear to glow red whilst this happens and will obviously dim in its illumination.

The moon will leave the earth's shadow around 1:00 am on Sunday morning. The moon is currently 401,798 kms away from the earth. Forecasts are for clearish skies.

Oh, I'm bein' followed by a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow
Leapin and hoppin' on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow
And if I ever lose my hands, lose my plough, lose my land,
Oh if I ever lose my hands, Oh if.... I won't have to work nomore.
And if I ever lose my eyes, if my colours all run dry,
Yes if I ever lose my eyes, Oh if.... I won't have to cry nomore.

Cat Stevens turned to Islam after being constantly haunted by moon shadows, causing loss of plough.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Arcades Reunited

I rediscovered a nice emulation software recently called mame (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator). Mame's purpose in life is to preserve gaming history. How kind of them. Anyway I have been tripping down memory lane and playing some of my old favourite arcade games which I used to spend my pocket money on down Redcar museys.

One game I can keep going back to is Hypersport. Hypersport was the follow up to Konami's very succesful 'Track and Field' game. I always preferred Hypersport as it was more varied in the events. If you became proficient at this game you could get a good half hours entertainment from your 10p if you played a 4 player game.

The makers of Mame have added a handy cheat button to give max running speed otherwise keyboards would suffer in the search for those world records.

If you enlarge the screenshot it will show the other levels.

They don't make them like they used to